Some days, I can hardly recall why I walked into the kitchen, let alone the details of my upcoming trip! For the majority of us, with aging comes a tad of forgetfulness or a bit of a slow-down in our memory recall abilities.
The good news – you can learn simple and easy ways to strengthen the mind and improve recall ability. How one focuses their memory and associates items together can greatly help recall. These tips and techniques also help to strengthen the imagination and provide a work out for the whole mind.
There are three major techniques to help improve memory capability. All three are simple and can easily be practiced on a regular basis.
Commonly part of school curriculum mnemonics are a very common technique to help improve memory and recall. Humans minds use memories to associate objects and places and information together; mnemonics help to strengthen those connections and make recall easier.
One part of mnemonics is rhyming. Lyrical and flowing groups of words are much easier to remember than a spoken list of words that do not seem to fit together. The rhyming component of mnemonics makes lists and items very easy to recall which is why most people can easily recite nursery rhymes from grade school.
Need to remember the name of a restaurant you want to be sure to visit? Try making a rhyme of it, like “Joe’s Pizza is really neat-sa!” You’ll be surprised how well that will stick in your memory for easy recall on your trip.
Another technique of mnemonics is to use the initials or first letter of the items to be remembered and create words or sayings out of them. For example, “Never Eat Soggy Wieners.” Sounds completely ridiculous until one realizes that it stands for North, East, South and West. There are many variations on this particular set of words, but the same principle is used for all of them.
In addition to mnemonics, a great trick for remembering all the attractions and restaurants you want to see is to map them out ahead of time. You can do this on your phone using Google Maps or simply print out a map of the area and circle/write the name of the attraction you’ll be visiting.
The Link Method
The Link Method is quite popular and helps improve creativity and memorization at the same time. To use this approach one literally links items together. Even though the items may not be related the order can be remembered easier with links than individual items. This technique takes a bit of practice but can prove to be very effective and habitual once it is mastered.
For example: there are five things to remember, a dog, apples, a hat, a boat and an umbrella. These things are not related in any way but using the Link Method they can be very easy to recall. Focus on the first thing, the dog. He is sitting in the yard barking at the apple tree. The apples fall down and land in the hat on the ground. The wind picks up the hat and blows it into the boat on the lake. As the boat leaves it kicks an umbrella up out of the prop.
This example may not work for each person as everyone has a different way of thinking, but it should demonstrate the basic idea. Try and create as many details as possible for each connection, the location, the smells and sounds, etc. make the scenes as rich and detailed as possible. Do not be afraid to add humor and complete silliness, as both tend to help one remember better.
Snapshots are another type of visualization that helps to improve recall and creativity. Snapshots are visualizations of what items go together.
For example if you are ordering barbecue for your four travel companions and there is no paper to write down the requests, they must be remembered.
- John wants a double patty with onions
- Sally wants a single patty with extra cheese
- Bob wants a double patty with mozzarella cheese
- Sue wants a plain single patty
Visualize John walking around in the shape of two burgers with a pile of onions on his head. Sally is smaller and therefore only wants a single but her hair looks like shredded cheddar. Bob’s hands look like two patties and his beard looks a lot like mozzarella cheese. Sue is wearing a necklace that looks just like a single burger.
Associating the people with their food will ensure that everyone gets the right food order. The sillier the snapshots are the easier they tend to be to remember.
A real snapshot works great, too, for remembering important details. Use your text messaging feature on your phone to make lists. And use the camera on your cell phone to snap photos of where you parked your car or each turn you take on your hiking trail so you can easily find your way back.
All three types of techniques require a bit of practice to help improve recall and memory but the more they are used the easier and more effective they become, strengthening the mind and the imagination.